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  1. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    Out of the Literary Closet: A Tolkien Story

    The purpose of this thread is to publish, bit by bit, my story about Tolkien, his friendship with Mary Renault, and his suppressed bisexual desires. It is speculative fiction so please don't flame me, I'm being serious but also being creative at the same time. We don't know for sure if Tolkien really was or wasn't bisexual, but if he really was then he never would have expressed his desires physically. This story aims to delve into his psyche and contemplate his private speculated thoughts. Don't worry, there's no sex, it's all speculative. Please let me know if anything doesn't seem accurate; I want this to be a accurate, factually based, story. Enjoy :)

    Prologue

    He was gone, long gone. He was no longer welcome at their table.
    Why doesnt Carl come over for dinner anymore? asked his daughter, Priscilla.
    He moved away, was all her father had in answer.
    Whenever they went through the family photo album they missed his face. He disappeared from their lives. Priscilla would sit beside her father and ask about the missing photos: Who was in this photo? Why did you and mummy take it out?
    He would tell her that they were pictures of his long dead parents whose young and happy faces he no longer desired to see. They never met their grandparents. But in truth they were photos of him with the family. Edith burned them; she removed him from their life. All he had left with was memory and a hole in his heart. And his writing, his friend could only live on through his written words. He was everywhere in different characters. He wrote about him more than he did his wife.
    At night, he would finger his rosary beads and pray that they might meet again in Heaven. He prayed that their sins may be atoned and their souls renewed. But did his friend even believe in God? Ronald did not know. He prayed for his friends soul, that God would not see his love as sin. Jesus said to love your neighbour. And that was all he did: love. They were not the days of the Old Testament, of Sodom and Gomorrah. Everything was new, including love.


    Chapter One: The Professor

    It was Michaelmas Term, 1925, and Mary had just turned twenty. She was to start her first term at St Hughs College, Oxford. St Hughs was a college solely for women. Mary was to major in English. There was much division in the English department all throughout Oxford. The rift existed between English Language and English Literature. No reconciliation could be brought about, not until 1927 when the Professor stepped in.
    But for the present the rift existed. And the dry old English Classics were taught just as dryly as they had always been. No one, not even Mary, expected a revival. The English Classics were as dead as the failed fourteenth century alliterative revival.
    During the first week, no tutorials were held. Instead, an introductory lecture was given outlining what was to be taught that term and what was expected of such fine young women. Mary found this lecture dry and boring, but listened well for it was of importance.
    The next week tutorials began. Mary looked at her timetable. Her tutors name was Tolkien. How does one pronounce that name? she thought as she made her way to the tutorial room.
    He was a short man, this Tolkien, with a clean-shaven face and fair hair just beginning to recede. His voice was one that muttered and mumbled, but was deep and rolling at the same time. The students would have to get used to his way of speaking. He announced that his name was pronounced Tol-keen. Mary made a mental note of this.
    Since they were learning English Classics, the most natural place to start was with Beowulf. Mary liked the poem, the Dark Ages moved something hidden deep within her to what one could term joy. It was a mysterious, yet beautiful poem (a point that Tolkien made clear) and held a lovely primeval wildness in its alliterating lines.
    The Professor, as the students called him (his name being strange and foreign to some of the girls tongues), read out loud the first few lines of Beowulf. His pronunciation was perfect and clear, his voice as rolling as the green hills surrounding Oxford. To say that no student was moved would be a lie; something was stirred in every girls heart. Tolkien went on to discuss the importance of the poem in not just history, but art. And so it was an important piece of beautiful art penned by, perhaps, the great Heorrenda himself. That first tutorial opened a new chapter in Marys life: she was to be a writer.
    It was true that she had already begun writing her own stories, but nothing as ambitious as this novel that now formed itself in her imagination. It was to be set in the Early Medieval period, the Dark Ages. There would be gallant knights and duels; dragons and magic; princesses and romance. Beowulf and all else she studied with Tolkien set her imagination alight as nothing ever before had done.
    And so she set to work, creating her own Dark Ages world, page by page. She was an ambitious writer, creating entire landscapes and histories with just a few words or sentences. A single word could paint an image in the readers mind that would stay with them and would be shaped to fit their taste. That was, Tolkien taught, the free will of the reader.
    As the weeks went by, they read many more English Classics. Marys especial favourite was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. She loved the King Arthur stories even more than she loved Beowulf. King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table were a shining light in a world so often portrayed as dark and primitive.  
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  2. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #2
    Sorry for the mistake (should have done more research) but Tolkien didn't move to Oxford until the beginning of 1926, not 1925. So that means the above is out a few months.

    Here's part two of Chapter One: The Professor:

    She made few friends, but the dearest of these was Kasia Abbott. Years later they would often reminisce on their St Hugh’s days and ‘darling’ Tolkien. The Professor made a big impact on these two young woman; he inspired something deep within their souls, a desire to learn. This was well thought of by Tolkien who was sympathetic to female undergraduates, believing they had as much reason to learn as men. He would often invite his students, male and female, to his house to give private extra tutoring. One such day, Mary was admitted to his house.
    At the time, Tolkien lived at 20 Northmoor Road. He had lived there since his removal from Leeds at the start of 1926 with his wife, Edith, and his three boys, John, Michael, and Christopher.
    It was a sunny, yet cool, spring day as Mary walked to the Tolkien’s house. It was about four in the afternoon; she had finished classes for the day and was on her way to a private tutorial with the Professor. As she entered the cottage garden, Mary noticed Tolkien tending to his roses. They were beautiful pastel pink blooms and their sweet fragrance filled the air.
    ‘Hello, sir,’ said Mary to her tutor.
    ‘Mary, good to see you,’ he replied. ‘Shall we make our way to the study?’
    Tolkien led Mary inside. They walked down the hallway to Tolkien’s study. Mary had often thought it important for an academic or writer to have their own room to write in. It was not until 1928 when she attended Virginia Woolf’s lecture entitled A Room of One’s Own that she realised this importance, especially for the female writer. It was many years before Mary was able to have a room of her own and five hundred pounds a year. During the interim, she worked as a nurse where she met her lover Julie Mullard. At that point in time, Mary was not consciously aware of her sexuality but if the question were put to her she would proudly identify herself as ‘bisexual’. ‘Lesbian’ was not commonly used back then to denote female homosexuals.
    ‘How are your roses growing?’ Mary asked, making conversation as they walked to the study.
    ‘Fine, except for the fact that a devilish cat keeps on urinating and defecating on them. In my opinion, cats are the fauna of, well, never mind.’
    Tolkien led Mary into the study and offered her a spare chair by the desk. They had just set to their discussion when there was a knock at the door.
    ‘Come in,’ said the Professor.
    The door opened revealing a beautiful young woman. She was pale and delicate, with raven hair pulled back into a plaited bun and sparkling grey eyes. She had to be the Professor’s wife.
    ‘I hope I am not disturbing you, Ronald, but I was wondering if you and your student would like some tea?’ she said.
    Tolkien introduced them to each other. Edith left the room to get tea.
    ‘Your wife is very pretty,’ said Mary. Indeed a blush was settling on her cheeks, as pale as the pink roses outside.
    Last edited by Athelas_H; 14/Jan/2017 at 04:38 AM.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  3. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #3
    Sorry again, there is a mistake in the above passage, I thought that Woolf gave her lecture at Oxford, but it was actually Cambridge so Renault can't have been there. She rather read it when published in 1929.

    Not long later, Edith came in with the tea. She had also provided some delicious scones with jam and cream. Mary thanked her. Edith smiled at the young student and left them to their work. The poems they were discussing that afternoon were Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the alliterative Morte Arthure, both of them being Middle English works. The authors of both poems were unknown, but whoever they were they were certainly Heorrendas of their generation. The poems were written as an attempt to revive the ancient poetic metre of alliterative verse, made popular by the Anglo-Saxons in the Dark Ages. But since the Norman invasion in 1066, alliterative verse declined, went out of fashion, and disappeared until this attempted fourteenth century revival. It was only an attempt, doomed to fail. Tolkien himself tried also to revive the ancient metre, but at this point in time it is too soon to say if he had prevailed or failed. He wrote many alliterative poems including the unfinished The Lay of the Children of Hrin that he worked on while at Leeds. He also translated Sir Gawain, making it more accessible to the current generation.
    However, Mary was not discussing Tolkien’s translation. She was studying the original Middle English version with the help of notes. It began:

    Sien e sege and e assaut watz sesed at Troye,
    e borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez,
    e tulk at e trammes of tresoun er wroȝt
    watz tried for his tricherie, e trewest on erthe:
    hit watz Ennias e athel, and his highe kynde,
    at sien depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome
    welneȝe of al e wele in e west iles.

    When the siege and the assault had ceased at Troy,
    and the fortress fell in flame to firebands and ashes,
    the traitor who the contrivance of treason there fashioned
    was tried for his treachery, the most true upon earth—
    it was Ӕneas the noble and his renowned kindred
    who then laid under them lands, and lords became
    of well-nigh all the wealth in the Western Isles.

    (From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo translated by J.R.R. Tolkien.)

    She had not read Tolkien’s translation, but had heard him talk about it. It was not until 1975 that it was published for public reading, two years after Tolkien’s death.
    As they talked they sipped their tea and nibbled their scones. There were hidden themes in the poem; Mary brought this up: ‘Do you think that Sir Gawain blurs the line between homosociality and homosexuality?’
    ‘Well, that is something I had never thought of,’ he replied. ‘I think that the poet was trying to reinforce heterosexuality in a time when the Church was beginning to frown upon homoerotic male friendships and kissing between two men.’
    Mary pondered this. Was her questioning too controversial to be discussing with the Professor? At this point in time she did not know. She had put her finger in it, as Tolkien writes in The Lord of the Rings, but she quickly took the Ring off lest she should give herself away to Sauron and the Nine. There was an awkwardness in the room that could not be dispelled. Both fell silent. There cups were empty and it seemed that the tutoring was finished for the day. Mary looked at her watch; it was after five/six o’clock. She peered out the window to see that last rays of the sun as she set beyond the circles of the world.
    She stood up and took her leave, shook her tutor’s hand, and was led out by him into the front garden. As she walked down the garden path, literally, Mary thought about her sexuality and what had nearly come to light in Tolkien’s study. Was she really attracted to women? She did not know for sure; she was in the exploration phase, but she was yet to physically explore. It was not conceivable that friendship was possible between females and she wondered if it were possible to have something more tangible such as love. Yes, she had a friend in Kasia, but it was nothing more than that, if that were even possible for two women. She believed it was; attitudes had to change; women were as much capable of friendship as men. But she lived in a time where women had only just received the vote and were still not men’s equals.
    When she got back to the college, Mary decided to read some Sappho to dispel her anxieties. She lay in bed and read:

    Since I have cast my lot, please, golden-crowned
    Aphrodite, let me win this round!

    And so she prayed silently to the Greek goddess of love to show her the way, to show her the light in the dark. She did not truly believe that Aphrodite was real and that she heard Mary’s prayer, but even so she prayed. Mary had never really been much of a religious girl. She had grown up attending church, but now she pushed it aside, it being another set of questions in her life. If any were to identify her beliefs, one would probably say she was Agnostic. Her sexual desires conflicted with what she had been taught about love at church. But when she had read the Bible there was nothing in there, no commandments demonising love between two women. Yes, there was Sodom and Gomorrah, but it was vague and what did the text mean by ‘knowing’? And there were Paul’s letters denouncing homosexuality, but who was he but a sexist misogynist? We must remember, she thought, that the Bible was written by men. That was the academic in her thinking.
    She finished reading and pondering all the questions flooding her mind, turned off the light, and settled down under the sheets. She closed her eyes, but the questions became images. Eventually, after such a busy, questioning day, she fell asleep.
    Last edited by Athelas_H; 16/Jan/2017 at 06:51 AM.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  4. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    This story is taking on its own life and growing bigger by the word. It no longer just focuses on Tolkien's supressed sexuality; it's more than that. Here's part of the next chapter:

    Chapter Two: Jack

    It was Tuesday 11 May 1926, to be exact, and Tolkien was the still new Professor of Anglo-Saxon. As stated earlier, there was at that time much division in the English Language and Literature department at Oxford. This, among other faculty matters, was to be discussed at an ‘English Tea’ at Tolkien’s own Merton College.
    Among the faculty members, Tolkien met a man as new as himself called Clive Staples Lewis, known affectionately as Jack. He was a large built man with dark hair and dark eyes that were very expressive, despite their colour—sorrow and anger smouldered in them. His voice was deep and booming.
    ‘You must be Professor Tolkien,’ said Jack. ‘Did I pronounce your name correctly?’
    ‘It is Tol-keen,’ replied Tolkien. ‘I am used to people mispronouncing it all the time. Just imagine the commotion for my students. Most people call me Ronald, but my students call me the Professor.’
    They shook hands.
    ‘I like Tolkien,’ replied Jack. ‘It’s different. Most people call me Jack.’
    They worked in the same faculty, but seemed to have little in common. The division came up and they were set against each other. Tolkien was all for teaching English Classics, mostly from the Dark Ages to Chaucer, but was willing to venture into the nineteenth century (1830 to be exact) as long as students who wanted to study earlier works got the chance to turn aside and do so. He also wanted Old Norse literature included in the earlier works. Jack was heavily opposed to this and when it came to a vote later on, Jack voted against Tolkien’s proposed reforms. Jack was all for teaching later literature post-Chaucer including Spencer, Shakespeare, and Milton. That day, Jack wrote of Tolkien in his diary: ‘No harm in him: only needs a smack or so’. Despite all this opposition, they continued to associate and work together, eventually becoming friends.
    The two men could not have been more different. Tolkien was nearly ten years the senior, very much a child of the Victorian era, a devout Roman Catholic, and a happily married father of three boys. Jack was younger, born right at the turning point between the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a staunch Atheist, and having an affair with a divorced woman twice his age, as much as he liked to deny this.
    Even so, their friendship flourished. As this happened over the months and years, Jack began to take Tolkien’s side in relation to the reforms: the Professor had convinced him and it was perhaps their friendship that influenced the compromise.
    But what really influenced Jack’s opinion was the creation of the reading group called the Coalbiters in the spring term of 1926. It was started by Tolkien and its purpose was to read Old Icelandic sagas and myths, creating an interest in the more commonly unpopular literature of the North.
    The name Coalbiters came from the Old Norse (or Old Icelandic) Kolbtar. The meaning was in jest: ‘men who lounge so close to the fire in winter that they bite the coal’.
    Jack had always, since a young boy, had a fascination for all things ‘Northern’ including his love of the sagas and myths and even Wagner’s Ring cycle. But he had never before read the texts in their original language. Now that he had decided to join the Coalbiters, he was setting himself a challenge. He did not join straight away, it was not until January 1927 that he decided to attend. And he found it invigorating. The texts were in the original Old Norse and the purpose of the group was to translate on the spot and read out loud in Modern English. Jack did not know many Old Norse words, the language seemed so alien to him, but even so he gave the Coalbiters a go. He had the help of Zoga’s Old Icelandic dictionary; he had bought a copy especially for the Coalbiters.
    The other members of the Coalbiters were from various faculties and for many of them Old Norse was a new language and the North an unexplored region. It was a hard task for such members, but even so they took it seriously and worked hard. They would often on translate a paragraph or two at a time, while other members more knowledgeable in Old Norse would translate a page or more.
    The text they began translating was the Younger Edda, also known as the Prose Edda, written down by Snorri Sturluson in approximately 1220. Jack had read William Morris’ translation of the Vlsungasaga, but had never read a translation of Snorri’s work. He knew generally about it and what stories it contained from what he had read about Norse myth as a boy, but otherwise it was a new, unchartered text.
    As the moths passed by, they finished the Younger Edda and moved on to the great sagas. After they were done with the sagas their next goal was the Elder Edda, also known as the Poetic Edda. It begins with a call to poetic arms:

    Hljs bi ek allar
    helgar kindir,
    meiri ok minni
    mgu Heimdallar;
    viltu, at ek, Valfr!
    vel framtelja
    forn spjll fra,
    au er fremst um man.

    A hearing I ask of all holy offspring,
    the higher and lower of Heimdall’s brood.
    Do you want me, Corpse-father, to tally up well
    ancient tales of folk, from the first I recall?

    Jack felt the calling of the North deep within his soul. It brought him Joy, though it was fleeting. He had wondering often at this point in his life what this feeling of Joy meant and its importance in his life.

    Enjoy and let me know what you think :)
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  5. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #5
    I've decided to change some of the above; here's the new version:

    ‘You must be Professor Tolkien,’ said Jack. ‘Did I pronounce your name correctly?’
    ‘It is Tol-keen,’ replied Tolkien. ‘I am used to people mispronouncing it all the time. Just imagine the commotion for my students. Most people call me Ronald, but my students call me the Professor.’
    They shook hands.
    ‘Most people call me Jack. I think you need a nickname. How about Tollers?’
    Truth be told, Tolkien did not like the nickname chosen for him by Jack, but it stuck and there was no escaping its presence.

    And here's the next passage:

    More on this in the next chapter.
    As the years passed by, Jack and Tolkien’s friendship flourished. But with this came tension between Tolkien and his wife, Edith. In 1929 they had another child, a daughter called Priscilla, but even so their marriage was struggling. They would often argue and slept in separate beds in separate rooms. Edith was jealous of Jack. Even though she had nothing to worry about. Jack had been repulsed by homosexuality at school and would never engage in such activity. But that is not to say that Tolkien had not thought of those desires hidden deep within. They were never actualised. He had friendship and that was enough.


    Chapter Three: Mythopoeia

    Jack made another friend. His name was Henry Victor Dyson Dyson, Hugo for short, and he was a Christian, Anglican to be precise. Though not Catholic like Tolkien, and still not searching for the elusive Joy like Jack, they became fast friends and had many long, important discussions together.
    One of these discussions occurred on the night of Saturday 19 September 1931 at Magdalen, Jack’s college.  
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  6. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    #6
    Here's chapter 3 continued:

    ‘Where are you off to, Ronald?’ said Edith as Tolkien said good bye and made his way out the door. ‘Tea’s nearly ready.’
    ‘I told you earlier that I’m having tea with Jack and Hugo,’ Tolkien replied. ‘I promise I won’t be long.’ Like that promise meant anything; Tolkien had been out on many of these teas that turned from just evening to early in the morning. Edith was rather jealous of Tolkien’s lifestyle while she was stuck at home with the kids and household chores. She did not have any friends, not even the neighbours. So as Tolkien closed the door she sat down in her armchair and brooded moodily on the disadvantages of being a ?married woman.
    The evening was chill for September, the wind blowing through Tolkien’s coat. The stars were just starting to appear in the sky above, but the moon had not yet risen. He would not show his glow till the late night.
    He arrived at Magdalen that was across the road from the Botanic Gardens. He would usually venture into the Gardens to spend some time with his favourite tree, the Black Pine, Pinus Nigra. But not tonight, the Gardens had closed at sunset. Even if they were open he would not have had the time.
    He passed through the gates and walked up to the New Building, as the dons called it. In there were Jack’s rooms. A light was on in the windows and the red flowers in the window planter boxes glowed against the light.
    Tolkien opened the main door and walked upstairs. He knocked on the door of Jack’s rooms. Jack answered: ‘Nice to see you, Tollers.’
    He still hated that nickname. Hugo was already seated in a comfy armchair by the fire. He was drinking a beer and smoking a pipe. Tea had just been brought up by a servant and was on the dining table. Hugo finished his pipe then they all sat down at the table.
    ‘Shall we say grace?’ asked Tolkien. Hugo bowed his head, closed his eyes, and clasped his hands. Tolkien looked questionly at Jack. Jack nodded and closed his eyes. It was a major step for him, he did not consider himself a Christian at that point in time. He believed that there was a God that he called ‘the Spirit’, but He was not necessarily the Christian God. After Tolkien had said grace, the three opened their eyes. Jack watched intently as Tolkien and Hugo crossed themselves.
    ‘Why do you cross yourselves?’ he asked his friends. ‘What does it mean, or is it just ritual?’
    ‘It’s a sign of reverence,’ said Hugo. ‘It means ‘in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’.’
    ‘I guess,’ said Tolkien, ‘over the years it has become a ritual, but rituals are important. They maintain their meaning even if we repeat them so many times that we don’t realise it. It’s important to remember what they represent.’
    Then they ate; the meal was roast beef and vegetables, washed down with beer. As they ate, they spoke; about everything and anything.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

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    Now for some more of Chapter Three: Mythopoeia:

    But the one thing that kept coming up time and time again in their conversation was religion. There were so many questions that Jack wanted to know the answers to, but he was too scared to ask. It was as if God, the Spirit, was calling to him as the sea calls to sailors. But he did not grasp its full meaning and purpose; he was too young spiritually to respond without some help. From who? His friends. And so they always came back to religion.
    ‘But I don’t understand,’ said Jack. ‘If Christianity is a myth then how can it be true?’ This thought had bothered him for many years now and he seemed no sooner getting to understand it nor answering it. To Jack, Dyson was ‘a man who really loves truth’. Perhaps Dyson would have the answers Jack sought.
    After tea, the three men walked through the Magdalen grounds, smoking and discussing metaphor and myth. Jack’s friend Owen Barfield had informed him that myth played a crucial role in the history of language and literature. Barfield wrote a book on the subject that was called Poetic Diction. The men’s conversation now turned to this book and its philosophy.
    ‘I understand that all myths are lies,’ said Jack. ‘Yes, they bring great Joy, but in the end they’re all as dead as each other. Myths are worthless lies even though breathed through silver.’
    ‘But they aren’t lies,’ replied Tolkien.
    Dyson nodded in agreement.
    Suddenly there was a gust of wind, leaves raining to the Earth. The men took note of this, especially Jack, and held their breath.
    Tolkien continued. He (Philomythus) later wrote down his argument in a poem for Jack (Misomythus) called ‘Mythopoeia’. The opening lines run thus:

    You look at trees and label them just so,
    (for trees are ‘trees’, and growing is ‘to grow’);
    you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
    one of the many minor globes of Space:
    a star’s a star, some matter in a ball
    compelled to courses mathematical
    amid the regimented, cold, Inane,
    where destined atoms are each moment slain.

    ‘What I mean,’ Tolkien continued, ‘is that myth as is real as trees and stars. It is all around us every day, living and breathing. Yes, trees and stars may seem mundane but they held more meaning for the men who first created their names.’
    Tolkien’s poem continues on this:

    Yet trees are not ‘trees’, until so named and seen—
    and never were so named, till those had been
    who speech’s involuted breath unfurled,
    faint echo and dim picture of the world,
    but neither record nor a photograph,
    being divination, judgement, and a laugh,
    response of those that felt astir within
    by deep monition movements that were kin
    to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
    free captives undermining shadowy bars,
    digging the foreknown from experience
    and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
    Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves,
    and looking backward they beheld the elves
    that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
    and light and dark on secret looms entwined.
    * * *
    He sees no stars who does not see them first
    of living silver made that sudden burst
    to flame like flowers beneath an ancient song,
    whose very echo after-music long
    has since pursued. There is no firmament,
    only a void, unless a jewelled tent
    myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
    unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

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    #8
    Here's the end of chapter three:

    ‘You know, Tollers,’ said Jack, ‘this argument is not new to me. I read Barfield’s book too. But I’m beginning to consider that there might be some truth in what you are saying. You may have just pushed me over the line.’
    ‘The truth is there for all to see,’ said Tolkien. ‘You think it’s coincidence that all myths contain a creation story, a flood story, serpentine creatures, a saviour, et cetera? They contain such things because they are pointing to the remembered truth of Christianity. After the tower of Babel, people spread out across the Earth and took their ‘myth’ with them. But over time it adapted and changed to suit its next generation of story tellers to explain their new environment. But elements of the truth still remained and always will. Myth points to the truth of Christianity. We are the sub-creators under God, embellishers of myth, yet God is the true Creator over all. His myth, Christianity, was written solely by Him and is complete truth.’
    They talked on and on, the three men, and moved upstairs again to Jack’s rooms. They talked about Christianity more generally and before they knew it it was three o’clock in the morning.
    ‘I should be getting home,’ said Tolkien. ‘Edith expected me home hours ago.’ So he said good bye to his friends and walked home. In the dark as he walked, Tolkien took out his rosary from his pocket and sent up a prayer that Jack would be converted. The power of prayer, and God, works in mysterious ways.
    * * *
    Jack and Hugo again went downstairs, strolling up and down the New Building’s cloister and smoking as they talked.
    ‘I have another question about Christianity,’ said Jack to Hugo. ‘If God is so powerful and loving then why is there suffering in the world?’
    ‘That’s a complex question, one that many people, even Christians, ask often,’ answered Hugo. ‘I think that God has nothing to do with suffering; it is the devil’s work. And sin. Humans are responsible for their own suffering. If Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten that fruit, then the world would be a happier place. It was the devil that led them astray and their new-found knowledge of good and evil led them to sin further and curse God.’
    ‘But God created Satan, Adam, and Eve. So isn’t His will that went into them? And God punished Adam and Eve for eating the fruit. He started suffering in the world.’
    ‘Be careful what you say, Jack. You are blaspheming. God created each creature, each spirit, with free will to make their own decisions and choices. And thus, Satan, in his pride, chose an eternity of evil, tricking God’s creation into believing his ways.’
    They made their way to the college’s gate; it was nearly four o’clock in the morning and both men were tired and desirous to get to bed.
    ‘One last thing before I go,’ said Hugo. ‘I would like to pray for you. Will you accept my offer?’
    ‘Yes, I think that’s ok with me,’ replied Jack. ‘Thanks.’
    And so, as they closed their eyes and held each other’s hands, Hugo offered up a prayer to God for the saving of Jack’s soul and the answering of his many difficult questions. Jack was later to write a book based on his and Hugo’s conversation called The Problem of Pain. It was not until that night and the days that followed that he understood the mankind’s suffering.
    Jack contemplated his friends’ words and sat long in thought. He also prayed to ‘the Spirit’ that was fast becoming in his mind a living entity named God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Twelve days later, Jack wrote to his close friend Arthur Greeves to inform him that he now considered himself a Christian.
    ‘My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it,’ Jack wrote.

    Up next another Mary chapter.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  9. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    Just a thought, do you think Tolkien would have walked to Magdalen or would he have ridden a bicycle?
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  10. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    Sorry about not publishing the next Mary chapter, I've had to reshuffle to accommodate time. There's another Jack/Inklings chapter before the next on Mary. Here is the first part:

    Chapter Four: New Man, New Life

    Jack was a new man. But his life was still of the old Jack; he needed to make some changes. The same day he wrote to Arthur, he organised to have a discussion with his partner, Mrs Janie Moore. They had been living together for over a decade and their relationship was complex and undefinable, no matter how much contemporary scholars may want to put them in a box. Mrs Moore was mother and lover all in one, though they slept in different beds in different rooms. She had a daughter who also lived with them and to her Jack was the closest thing to a father. Mrs Moore was a bossy woman, always asking Jack to help her with household chores. Jack was kind and caring enough to help her out every time. Mrs Moore never took ‘no’ for an answer, and because of this Jack did not know how to say ‘no’. Whether it was washing up the dishes or hanging out the clothes or tending to the garden, Jack was ever ready to lend a hand. Of course this disrupted his academic life and as the years passed he began to sleep at his Magdalen rooms to get some peace. Their relationship was strained by the time Jack converted to Christianity, but still, at times, full of passion.
    Now Jack wished to talk about the future with Janie. He sat her down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and began:
    ‘I have to tell you something.’
    ‘What is it, Jack?’
    ‘I’ve converted to Christianity. I know you don’t agree, but I could no longer block out Christ’s call.’
    Mrs Moore was a staunch Atheist and was moved to tears and shouting when Jack told her the news of his conversion.
    ‘I feel personally attacked,’ she said. ‘You’ve betrayed me and all we stood for. We’re supposed to be a partnership.’
    ‘I’m sorry, but I can no longer be your lover,’ said Jack. ‘I must hold back passion and love you only as a son loves his mother. I hope you understand.’
    ‘Are you now sworn to celibacy? I hope you’re not going to become a monk or something.’
    ‘There’s no need to worry, I’m not going to be a monk. I just want to live my life obediently in God’s light and sex outside of marriage is not a righteous thing to do. I still want to live with you, if you’ll have me, but my bed is no longer welcoming to you.’
    ‘You might as well be leaving me.’ Her tears kept falling. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose with her handkerchief.
    Jack gave her some distance for a few days by staying in his rooms in the New Building. He prayed much during that time.
    It came time for him to pick a church, but where to start? There were so many denominations to choose from. He had grown up as a Protestant so he deemed Catholicism was out of the question, besides he did not like the worship of and prayer to the Virgin Mary and the saints. Tollers would be disappointed. Next on the list was Baptist. He attended a Baptist church that very Sunday. He did not like it, it was too casual and not at all like the church of his childhood. So he decided to try Anglicanism, the Church of England. He had grown up in the Irish equivalent so this seemed a natural choice. And he loved it. He felt warmly welcomed and the rituals, though strict, did not bother him as much as Catholicism. The hymns moved his soul to heart-felt worship and the sermon helped his internal fire of learning blaze.
    But he did not at first take communion. It took many weeks for him to build his spiritual self up and take on the sacrament. He finally took communion on Christmas Day, 1931. Little did he know, but his brother, Warnie, had also converted and taken his first communion on that very same day. Warnie was living in China at the time, based there with the army. Jack and Warnie wrote to each telling each other of their conversions, their first prayers, and first communion. They were greatly pleased to hear each other’s news and as a result their relationship grew stronger even though they were distanced by time, land, and sea.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

  11. Athelas_H's Avatar
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    Here's the next passage of chapter four:

    Tolkien was happy to hear that Jack had converted, but he was also disappointed that Jack had not chosen Catholicism. He expressed this to Jack and he pushed it aside as a just a judgmental comment. At least they worshipped the same God, no matter what their interpretation of the Bible. Tolkien was very serious that Catholicism was the only true form of Christianity. He had been a strong Catholic all his life; his mother had led him from an early age. She was central to his beliefs; she had suffered persecution at the hands of Protestants and this, Tolkien believed, led her to an early death. Tolkien held on to this all his life and it clouded his judgment. When he met his future wife, Edith Bratt, and learned that she was Protestant that greatly upset him. After their love bloomed and was approved he convinced her to convert to Catholicism. She did this willingly, but not without regret. In her later years she deeply regretted leaving behind the beliefs of her childhood. But she was true to her husband so she never turned back.
    The two friends, Tolkien and Jack, continued their friendship despite their differences in denominations. Tolkien wrote in his diary in October 1933 that friendship with Jack ‘besides giving constant pleasure and comfort, has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual—a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher—and a lover, at least after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord’.
    That same year, 1933, the Inklings were created. According to Tolkien, Inklings denotes ‘people with vague or half-formed intimation and ideas plus those who dabble in ink’. It was a group open to friends old and new, though it was seen that women were not too welcome; it was a boys’ club. Members included, of course, Tolkien and Jack, but also Hugo when he could attend and sometimes even Warnie. They read out loud to each other stories that they were in the process of writing or were finished.
    Even if you're only a boy you can fight like a girl. ~ EA <X3

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